New/For Review Only: Research Proposal

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Research Question: When did music education appear in elementary/secondary schools, and how advocates’ reasons for music education change over time?

Why this topic deserves to be researched:

Throughout my childhood, instrumental music was something that always took great prominence in my life and in my household. When reflecting on this, I think about the reasons for this importance and why it was so stressed in my family. After attending Trinity for the past year and a half, I realize the importance of music after witnessing those who didn’t have the opportunity to immerse themselves within the musical world as a child. Seeing others not be able to read music or simply the idea that they just don’t know how to play an instrument in the first place, was quite startling for me when attending Trinity; especially when coming from a community in a suburb right out of D.C., where a focus on musicianship and the importance of musical-mental development was so broadly understood by parents, students, and teachers alike. From this perspective and realization, I am intrigued in learning more about where musicianship, as a school course, first developed, and why it did so in the first place.

Through the research I have done thus far, I have learned that the beginning of the 20th century did hold some “music appreciation classes,” where the focus was enjoying and admiring music, but not necessarily the act of performing music the way we do today. This lackadaisical approach is something I plan on exploring further and will help lead me to the shift from this Progressive Era approach of teaching a hands-off approach of musicianship to the more current understanding of music class and the prevalence it holds in today’s educational sphere.

Research Strategy:

When addressing my research question, I plan on using the techniques my professor, Jack Dougherty, indicated during our previous conversation/meeting earlier last week. As a result, I have found searching strategies like Google Scholar, America: History and Life, JSTOR, and Trinity’s WorldCat database to further examine the rationale behind the evolution of musicianship as a class taught wide amongst contemporary affluent society. I find it more difficult, however, to use our class readings and lectures for this topic because we haven’t studied it too closely in class. This said, based on the sites I have found so far, I doubt there to be much of an issue in finding applicable, scholarly sources for my project. Nonetheless, I have set up an appointment with a research librarian at Raether Library so that a professional can accentuate my current research strategies.


Hodges, Donald A., and Debra S. O’Connell. “The Impact of Music Education on Academic Achievement.” The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Web.

Kelstrom, J. M. “The Untapped Power of Music: Its Role in the Curriculum and Its Effect on Academic Achievement.” NASSP Bulletin 82.597 (1998): 34-43. Print.

Hardesty, Jacob. “Canonic Constructions In Early 20Th Century Music Appreciation Classes.” American Educational History Journal 38.1/2 (2011): 289-303. America: History & Life. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

Lee, William R. “Music Education and Rural Reform, 1900-1925.” JSTOR. Sage Publications, Inc., 1997.

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Madison Starr

Madison Starr is a student at Trinity College (Class of 2016) studying French and American Studies

One thought on “New/For Review Only: Research Proposal”

  1. Madison – Yes, this research question fits the change/continuity over time criteria for this assignment, and I’m pleased that you’ve found a topic that speaks to your interests.

    But I’m not yet convinced that you’ve found appropriate sources to answer this question, so it will require more digging.

    The Hodges & McConnell piece appears to be a contemporary piece with no historical perspective (based on my quick scan), and it lacks a date or publisher, so hard to justify for this assignment. Kelstrom 1998 appears to tell us something about what music educators think at that point in time, but I don’t see anything in the title or publication that suggests it looks further back in time.

    Lee 1997 looks much more relevant, based on the abstract, because it argues how music education was important to Progressive ed reformers. Be sure to get the correct citation, which is:
    Journal of Research in Music Education, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Summer, 1997), pp. 306-326
    (ignore the part about “published on behalf of Sage Publications” or whatever)

    While the Hardesty 2011 source may interest you, its value to me was the bibliography, which led me to these more useful looking sources at Trinity Library:

    Mark, Michael L, and Charles L Gary. A History of American Music Education. New York: Schirmer Books , 1992.

    Keene, James A. A History of Music Education in the United States. Hanover, [N.H.]: University Press of New England, 1982.

    In fact, here’s the WorldCat listing for books under this subject heading:

    hope that helps

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